Student senate elects new president, legislative cabinet

Greg Parlier

(Photo by Joseph Basco)

By: Greg Parlier, Editor in Chief

Fresh faces dominated the Senate chambers March 26, as several new senators took their seats for the first time and elected an almost entirely new legislative cabinet.

History junior and former Attorney General Zak Varshovi won a tightly contested race for senate president over political science sophomore and former constitution and statutes committee chair Yousra Hebeishy by a vote of 26-18.

“He was very impressive in his speech. He came out very passionate and very professional,” said outgoing Senate President and Student Body President-Elect Carlo Fassi. “He proved that he knew his stuff and that he knows how to make the legislative branch better than it already is.”

After their presentations and a lengthy discussion among a mostly new senate, Varshovi was elected by an out-loud roll call vote in what several senators called the toughest decision they ever had to make in the senate chambers.

“I felt my heart in my throat last night during discussion because there were so many things I wanted to say about both candidates,” Fassi said. “It was a really difficult meeting at the beginning for me.”

The vote was especially difficult for senate veterans close with both candidates because the electronic voting system was down, forcing senators to declare their decision aloud in front of all.

“Senator Hebeishy is a very qualified senator. I definitely agree with everything that was said about her; she’s been as asset to student government, and I’m sure she’ll continue to be an asset to Student Government,” Varshovi said.

Hebeishy said she would continue to serve on senate, although she declined several nominations for various chair positions and was unsure if she would run for any other positions in the future.

“New leadership comes in every year, and it’s something you have to adjust to,” she said. “I’m excited to see what they have planned.”

Varshovi, who served on senate before becoming attorney general in 2011, said he plans to implement a fifth committee in senate.

The University Affairs Committee would bring together students that sit on various university-wide committees, such as the food advisory committee, to draft resolutions to illustrate student opinion on certain issues, Varshovi said.

Former Student Advocacy Committee Chairman Kyler Dykes filled out the new senate leadership, winning the senate president pro-tempore seat by a much wider margin over new Senator Fransua Estrada.

“I believe the experience I have over my opposition and the amount of work that I’ve put into it certainly merits this result,” Dykes said.

Dykes, a UNF biology sophomore, cited SG unity as his main focus in 2012.

Legislative Cabinet

The Senate also elected three new committee chairs and a parliamentarian.

Current Elections Commissioner Joel Versace was the only senator to keep his seat after running unopposed.

Lacie Normandy, a UNF public relations junior, won the budget and allocations chair position over finance junior Sergio Saavedra and freshman Chris Brady by a 26-9-9 vote.

Corey Amira, a UNF political science junior, won another close race, this time for Parliamentarian, over business management senior Kyle Kvies and political science freshman Jason Fountain, who was appointed to a senate seat just hours before.

Joseph Turner, who was appointed attorney general by President Matthew Brockelman just before the spring election, appointed Fountain to the vacated seat. Turner took over for Varshovi after he chose to run for senator in the election. Fountain also ran in the election, receiving 730 votes, just over 200 short of election.

Finance junior Jerry Barrs was elected to constitution and statutes chair, and primary education junior Megan Jones to student advocacy committee, both without opposition.

The evening began with a swearing-in ceremony of 26 senators, 25 of which were elected in the spring 2012 elections.

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